When asked about how I get so much done, I have a multitude of answers. Strategies. Recommended routines. The propagation of certain habits. Suggested ways of thinking.
But what I should really say every time I'm asked this question is this:
I value my time appropriately. I know that time is the most valuable commodity on the planet, and therefore I am constantly making value judgements about how I will spend it.
Most human beings don't value their time appropriately. I have a multitude of examples to demonstrate this tragic fact, but here is one that makes me insane:
There is a Starbucks near my home with a drive thru window. I stop by this Starbucks on the weekends to pick up Elysha's latest caffeinated fix. The line of cars in the drive thru line at this establishment is typically so long that it sometimes blocks the entrance to the parking lot.
It's insanity. It infuriates me. The parking lot in front of the store is bereft of cars. The parking spot beside the front door is empty. The inside of the Starbucks is almost empty. Twice as many employees as customers. Yet people will sit in their cars, waiting for this line to slowly wind its way around the building instead of hopping out of the car and going inside.
These are people who do not value their time appropriately.
Last weekend, I decided to determine if I was missing something. Maybe I was misunderstanding the situation.
Perhaps the line moves incredibly fast?
It doesn't. I watched customers walk into the store, order their coffee, receive their coffee, use the restroom, and leave long before the cars at the back of the drive thru line were even close to the window.
Maybe these were parents with little children strapped into car seats?
Nope. I walked around the building, creepily eyeing the back seats of these cars. While I'm sure there are occasionally parents with small children in the drive thru line, none were in line on either day that I checked.
These are people who are not valuing their time appropriately. They are spending time in a drive thru line when there is a faster, more efficient option available.
It's a small thing, and it's admittedly not a lot of time wasted. Ten minutes at best. But when you start to value time appropriately, you realize that all time is valuable, regardless of its size.
For me, ten minutes could mean an extra ten minutes on a treadmill, which could equate to an extra 60 calories burned.
Ten minutes could mean an extra paragraph written in a novel, which brings me one paragraph closer to completion.
Ten means could mean an extra ten minutes spent playing soccer with the kids on the front lawn.
Ten minutes could mean a dishwasher emptied, a load of laundry folded, a letter written, a cat cuddled, a permission slip completed, an email answered, a page read, a magazine article pitched, a phone call made, a photograph taken, or a banana eaten.
These ten minutes add up quickly. People don't believe it. They think tens minutes here and there are nothing. I know this because they roll their eyes and scoff at the ways I try to preserve tiny slivers of time every day. They think it's ridiculous that I practically run through the grocery store when shopping. They think that my deeply-held desire to identify the most efficient way to empty a dishwasher is ludicrous. They think it's silly that I try to keep my shower to under 100 seconds. They think it's insane that I eat the same thing for lunch almost every day.
But this time matters. These minutes add up quickly, and the results of this time saved are extraordinary.
When you're on your death bed years from now, moments from the end, will you wish you'd spent more time in a Starbucks drive thru line?
Or will be wishing that you could've written just one more letter to a loved one or eaten one more banana or spent just a few more minutes with your children when they were little?
I know the answer to this question. I think about it constantly. This question is my guiding force. My ever-present mantra.
I know the answer to this question. I think you do, too.